Parable of the Talents

Gospel Matthew 25:14-30 

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about women. How fitting that the book ends with a picture of a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion. Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, meant to please others, and entirely domestic. Not so. This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements; however, they are a result of her reverence for God. She extends here love and generosity to the poor and the needy. In other words, she is a woman of virtue both at home and outside. Such a woman is more beautiful and costlier than the costliest jewelry; for her beauty and value does not come from the external but from the heart. The message of the first reading blends with the gospel.

Coming to the Gospel – there are two kinds of people in our Churches today: risk-takers and care-takers. The problem with care-takers is that they might show up at the gate of Heaven with little to show for the lives they have lived. Jesus warns us against our care-taker’s attitude in today’s Gospel Parable of the talents. Today’s Gospel answers the question that troubles most of us: how should we live to face the judgement day? What should I do to be able to hear these words from God: “well done, good and faithful servant: come and join in your Master’s happiness.” Today’s Parable shows the variation of gifts given to individuals according to their capacities.  However, no gift is greater than the other. Every gift is meaningful and great in that which it is meant for.

The master of the servants gave out his talents to them in five, two and one. A talent was worth between five and six thousand denari—or about 15 years wages for a simple day laborer. Even one talent could be worth more than a laborer would earn in a lifetime. This simply means that even the servant who received the one talent had an enormous lifetime gift. The problem of the one talent servant is not the amount he received but laziness (inability to invest), lack of creativity (not knowing how to invest), jealousy (measuring his gift with that of others), and wickedness (better to bury it so that the other will not benefit from the interest).

We have to be grateful for the gifts we have received from God: we have to administer them wisely and bear abundant fruits in order to be rewarded by the Master. The Parable projects God as having entrusted His entire property (i.e. the world) to His servants (i.e. us), trusting that we will be responsible, prudent and thoughtful stewards of these riches.

We need to realize that God has blessed us with abundant talents and gifts. There are many verses in the Bible that talk about talents. Unfortunately, not many put their God given talents to use. Everyone needs to have a purpose in life. Life is but a spark, we can either transform it into a beautiful bright light that will glow or we can let it go dim and burn out. I firmly believe that everyone should draw up a bucket list (life goals) of what he or she wants to pursue/achieve in life.

Good deeds bear fruits of a new life. We have to keep the word and let it bear rich fruits for a new life in God. Each time we sin, we say a “no” to God and a “no” to life. Life must grow and develop, that is God’s will. We have to respond to God’s faithfulness in fulfilling the mission entrusted to us. What we will finally be is decided by what we are here and now. Faithfulness consists in responding to God’s call and making ourselves worthy of God’s call by living the good news.

God has endowed us with talents, qualities and graces, we are unique and our mission is irreplaceable before God. Our devotion to duty should “yield fruit” like that of the good and faithful servant.

The Parable can challenge us to look at the ways in which each of us look at what we own and what we earn. Are we risk-takers or care-takers. Are we hoarders or are we generous? Do we think ahead about how some small risk might be necessary to accomplish good things in life? The needs of the community, the parish, the diocese, and country are great. They won’t be filled by burying our talents.

On his program “the Archbishop’s hour”, a listener asked Archbishop Alexander Joseph Brunett, Archbishop of Seattle, how the current economic crisis would affect the Catholic Church. He responded with concern for the poor who would be most affected, but he also put things in a broader perspective. He noted that some of the greatest giving to the church happened during periods of recession – even during the great depression. “people will give,” said Archbishop Brunett, “to what is important to them.” This we know from our experience. We will give money, time and talent for what is important to us.

So, what are the four lessons we can take from today’s Gospel?

  • Firstly, it tells us that God gives men differing gifts. One man received five talents, another two, and another one. It is not a man’s talent which matters; what matters is how he uses it.
  • Secondly, it tells us that the reward of work well done results in more work to do. The two servants who had done well are not told to lean back and rest on their achievements because they have done well. They are given greater tasks and greater responsibilities.
  • Thirdly, it tells us that the more faithful we are, the more obligations will be required of us. We will have to take up greater tasks and responsibilities that demand faithfulness. The man with the one talent did not lose his talent, he simply did nothing with it. Even if he had adventured with it and lost it, it would have been better than to do nothing at all.
  • Finally, it lays down a rule of life which is universally true. It tells us that to him who has more – more will be given, and he who has not, will lose even what he has. The meaning of this is simple. If a man has a talent and exercises it, he is progressively able to do more with it. But, if he has a talent and fails to exercise it, he will inevitably lose it.